People often advise against talking about politics or religion with strangers because you don’t know what position they might hold. Growing up, I assumed a stranger wouldn’t want to discuss matters of religion or faith, but I have come to believe something different. I think people actually like to talk about faith. They just don’t want to be lectured.
Three years ago, I was in Ghana, teaching at our Bible college. It was a Tuesday, and we had finished our classwork, so I went back to the hotel gym to work out. The gym was very small, with only a few pieces of equipment. There was another guy who was already in the gym, and the room was so tiny that it would have been awkward not to talk. I found out his name was Andre, and he was from Eastern Europe, working to lay cable in northern Ghana. I told him I was a pastor teaching at a Bible college. The look on his face told me he didn’t want to be converted.
Andre and I chatted for about 15 minutes, and then I did it. I asked him the question. I didn’t ask him the popular evangelism question: If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity? I asked him about his life growing up in Eastern Europe and what conclusions he had come to about life.
I told Andre that I had no intentions of converting him to Christianity, but I was very curious to hear about his life and what he had concluded about religious matters. Andre must have believed me because he told me everything about his thoughts on God, the Church, the Bible, and the person of Jesus.
We had a great conversation. Andre didn’t become a believer during our conversation, but for 45 minutes, he was asked to think about his story in relation to God’s story. I do hope that Andre thinks back on our conversation from that day and will ultimately discover his need for a Savior and be led to God .
You see, I think Christians are so consumed with getting people to say yes that we forget to ask them about their stories. We are so ready to unload our story and our arguments for God that we forget to listen to them.
I think the greatest problem facing evangelism isn’t a lack of information, confidence, or knowledge. It’s an inability to sit and listen to our friends talk about faith.
People love to talk and are willing to talk about faith, but in these situations, we must be careful to make listening a priority over lecturing, trusting that God will reveal Himself through our conversations.